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    Thai court rejects Viktor Bout's bail request

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    A Thai court refused on Wednesday to release alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on bail and under guarantees from his lawyer and Russian diplomats.

    BANGKOK, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - A Thai court refused on Wednesday to release alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on bail and under guarantees from his lawyer and Russian diplomats.

    Bout's family earlier appealed to the Bangkok Criminal Court to release him on bail in a motion submitted by his defense and Russian Embassy officials.

    The court said it could not grant Bout bail because the Thai prosecutors representing the United States had submitted an extradition appeal to a Thai court and due to the "high risk of the Russian leaving Thailand."

    The amount of bail offered by the Bout's family was $45,000.

    Bout's wife has said he has no intention to leave Thailand until court proceedings are completely finished.

    One of Bout's lawyers said on Wednesday that the defense could try two more times to request Bout's release on bail until his case is submitted to the appeals court.

    Former Russian army officer Bout, 42, was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 during a sting operation led by U.S. agents.

    The Bangkok Criminal Court refused in August to extradite Bout to the United States, where he is accused of conspiring with others to sell millions of dollars' worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), among other illegal arms deals, and "threatening lives of U.S. citizens."

    Thai prosecutors representing Washington in the trial lodged an appeal on August 26 against the Bangkok court's ruling. The appeal process could take several months but the appeals court ruling will be final, as Thailand's Supreme Court does not review extradition cases.

    Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, has been linked to some of the world's most notorious conflicts, allegedly supplying arms to former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.

    The United States is seeking Bout's extradition on charges he conspired to sell FARC weapons including more than 700 surface-to-air missiles, thousands of guns, high-tech helicopters and airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers and missiles. He has been indicted on four terrorism-related charges in New York and could face up to life in jail.

    Bout's nickname, the "Merchant of Death," came in 2000 from a minister at Britain's Foreign Office who was concerned about Bout allegedly ferrying weapons around Africa. He has been the subject of UN sanctions, a Belgian money-laundering indictment and an assets freeze by the United States.

     

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